Unsolved Murders

Charles Peden

Age: 19

Sex: male

Date: 30 Jun 1949

Place: Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth

Source: www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Charles Peden was found dead between two disused buildings at the Royal Naval Barracks in Portsmouth on 30 June 1949.

It was thought that he had died sometime before midnight on 29 June 1949.

He was found near a blitzed building. His body was found in full uniform sprawled out between two bombed storehouses just inside the twelve-foot high walls of the barracks.

His inquest later heard that his injuries were caused by him either jumping, falling or being thrown from a great height. It was heard that he had been dragged a considerable distance to the spot where he was found between the two buildings.

His inquest also heard evidence of bruising in keeping with an unnatural act. The inquest heard that 'there were further injuries indicating forceful restraint, as shown by deep bruising under the left jaw, and both behind and to the right side of the voice box'. The doctor's report also stated that he had other injuries that indicated he had suffered a severe fall including a fractured spine. The doctors report also stated, 'Marks found on the shoes bore out the fact that he was dragged and placed where he was found. The groups of injuries were more in keeping with horseplay than a deliberate beating up'.

Following the discovery of his body all leave at the barracks was stopped whilst the police completed their enquiries.

He was from Bingham Road in Cross Way, Southfield, Portobello, Edinburgh and had been in the navy for 18 months. However, no one at the barracks knew much about him as he had only posted to the barracks a few weeks earlier and had kept himself to himself.

It was thought that he had gone ashore on the Wednesday evening, but no one knew when he went ashore or when he had returned.

In the initial stages of the investigation the police said that they had a theory that he had been killed by a comrade and a senior police official said, 'The examination revealed extensive injuries. We have not ruled out the possibility of foul play and are following a definite line of inquiry'. A detective superintendent said, 'We are investigating the possibility of foul play. We have not ruled it out'. The police said that they were trying to reconstruct his movements from the time that he was last seen.

Charles Peden's clothes were also sent off to the police laboratory in London for scientific examination.

The police interviewed 1,900 people and made extensive inquiries, but they were unable to determine anything about his movements after 9.30pm on 29 June 1949 when he was last seen.

A leading seaman that had known Charles Peden for about five days said, 'The last time I saw him was in the mess, when I told him to report to the divisional office as he was adrift. He had failed to report for duty at Pitt Street in the afternoon'.

Another seaman said that Charles Peden had told him that he was worried about his health and had ordered a blood test, and at the inquest it was heard that it was not until after Charles Peden's death that it was found that the result of the blood test was negative.

An open verdict was returned at his inquest on Saturday 30 July 1949. The coroner said that it was quite impossible to say whether the injuries that caused his death were due to Charles Peden's own act, accident, or to the actions of someone else.


*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.


see Belfast News-Letter - Saturday 30 July 1949

see Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 30 June 1949

see Daily Mirror - Friday 01 July 1949

see Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 01 July 1949

see Portsmouth Evening News - Friday 01 July 1949